Kids Pen Plea to Pill-Popping Parents
Children in one of Canada's First Nations communities are at the front line of a staggering prescription drug problem.
Sixth-graders in Northwestern Ontario’s Cat Lake reserve have put together a heart-wrenching list of reasons why their parents and other adults in the community should stop using drugs. “We feel that we don't know what to do to help you stop doing Drug,” they wrote as “Point Number Five.” Cat Lake is at the epicenter of a Canada's prescription drug addiction epidemic, with an estimated 70-80% of the town's adults addicted to narcotics such as OxyContin. Local government and health officials have been struggling to deal with the devastation wrought by addiction on communities across the country. Out of a population of only 700 in Cat Lake, local officials are collecting 500 needles a week through the needle-exchange program. Officials have put 172 adults on a list confirming them as addicts, and 250 adults are suspected addicts—everyone else in the community is either an elder or a child. The addiction to Oxycontin in this region has gotten so severe that health workers just assume their patients are using the drug. Since Oxycontin is no longer being produced in Canada, authorities are warning of a withdrawal crisis that they fear they are unprepared for. “We want you to stop because it hurts our family and we don't like it when we're angry,” says the children's "Point Number Four".